Thu, Apr 02, 2015 - Page 1 News List

US welcomes AIIB, still supports other development banks


US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew on Tuesday said that Washington was “ready to welcome” the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), easing toward the new development institution after the US expressed early concerns.

Lew said in a San Francisco speech just after a trip to Beijing that the US would embrace any new international development bank providing it “complements” existing institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.

He also stressed that new institutions needed to “share the international community’s strong commitment to genuine multilateral governance and decisionmaking, and ever-improving lending standards and safeguards,” according to his prepared speech.

China and 20 other countries signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the Beijing-based bank in October last year.

Washington, worried about a China-dominated AIIB cutting into the work of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank at first sought to persuade its allies to hold off from joining the new bank.

However, in recent weeks most European powers and other leading economies have signed on to the new institution, guaranteeing it a strong capital base and isolating the US’ position.

That has left Washington appearing isolated in not wholeheartedly welcoming Beijing’s creation.

Speaking at the northern California chapter of the Asia Society, Lew said he was encouraged that Chinese leaders “made clear that they aspire to meet high standards and welcome partnership.”

“Our consistent focus on standards has already had an impact and, as lending begins, the test will be the character of the projects funded and their impact on the people and countries they serve,” Lew said.

If the AIIB works with existing institutions to finance infrastructure projects around Asia, Lew said, it “will help demonstrate a commitment to the highest standards of governance, environmental and social safeguards, and debt-sustainability.”

Lew still did not let on if the US would join the AIIB.

He made clear Washington still supports the mission of the World Bank, the IMF and other older regional development banks, and is concerned about how Beijing will proceed with a new institution poised somewhat as a rival to those.

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